The meeting of EU Finance Ministers (ECOFIN) in Brussels, chaired by Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan has reached an agreement on a mandate for negotiations of amendments to the Savings Tax Agreements with third countries while the Savings Tax Directive will now be discussed at next week's meeting of the European Council. Progress in the area of Banking Resolution and Recovery (BRR) has also been achieved.
Ministers held discussions on taxation issues with the recent joint letter from Minister Noonan, as ECOFIN President, and EU Commissioner for Taxation Algirdas Šemeta outlining the basis for discussions. The Savings Tax Directive was also discussed and will be discussed further at next week's meeting of EU leaders. Proposals in relation to these agenda items had been under discussion since 2011 and today’s agreement marks a significant breakthrough on the issue of taxation.
Speaking after the meeting Minister Noonan stated: "We now have agreement on a mandate for negotiations of amendments to the Savings Tax Agreements with third countries".
Minister Noonan - "This is real progress towards tackling tax evasion and fraud which is an agreed objective of all member states. We strongly support the international move towards automatic exchange of information as the new global standard"
The 27 EU Finance Ministers also discussed the issue of bank resolution and recovery (the rules for dealing with failing banks). Significant progress was made on this agenda item with the main focus of the discussions centering on the process of “bail in”. There were positive discussions and contributions from a number of ministers on how a common EU bail in tool might work. The progress made has provided Ireland with a positive sense of where a compromise might lie.
Minister Noonan noted the progress achieved on the issue: “Following discussions at today’s meeting we now have a good sense of the views of individual member states”.
Minister Noonan – “We will continue to prioritise the issue of bank resolution and recovery and reaching agreement among Member States on this issue remains an objective of the Irish Presidency”
Political agreement was also reached among ministers to amend the EU budget for 2013. The agreement allows for additional funding of €7.3 billion which will help to fund EU programmes designed to create jobs and stimulate economic growth.
Minister Noonan – “Today’s political agreement to provide additional funding of €7.3 Billion will help to stimulate economic growth and create jobs, which is a key objective of Ireland’s Presidency"
The meeting also heard from the EU Commission on their current proposals on Economic and Monetary Union and a short discussion was held on the Commission’s conclusions on macro economic imbalances in the EU.
Summing up the meeting Minister Noonan said: “Overall, this was a very productive day, with concrete outcomes on taxation and on the EU budget as well as good progress on bank resolution”.